Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Another 100 pages from the ex-wife

I just got a massive response from my ex-wife to my last court filing. It is about an inch thick, and must be about 100 pages. Her briefs are only about 25 pages, and the rest of it is exhibits -- transcripts, orders, financial statements, etc.

Half of it is to make me pay $6,500 to the law firm of Bosso Williams that formerly represented her. I would think that a law firm could do its own collections.

Very little of it actually addresses issues under dispute. I've only skimmed it so far. I may have to write a reply.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Massachusetts support guidelines

Massachusetts just revised its mother support guidelines. It partially relied on a study that said:
Estimates of child-rearing expenditures in single-parent families are not used by any state as the basis of their guidelines.
That's right. The so-called child support is an income redistribution scheme for parents, and has nothing to do with actual child-rearing expenses.

Georgia mother support reform

Georgia op-ed:
Under the bill, noncustodial parents can reduce the amount of child support they pay by spending a certain amount of time with their children. The proposal before the Senate set the threshold for the parenting time credit at 91 days a year — the equivalent of 13 weeks. But by joining together, female senators were able to raise that annual threshold to 121 days.
A blogger calls this More Anti-Father Bigotry by the FemNags.

These women are saying that if the father takes care of the kids for 120 days out of the year, then he should still have to pay mother support (which they call child support) for those 120 days.

It is not child support, as the money is not going to the children. It is mother support.

Florida paternity fraud

Florida news:
A House committee has unanimously approved a bill that would let a man end his child-support obligation if he proves he's not the biological father. ...

As it is now, the bill does not include an amendment that a court could grant relief to the man only if it found that doing so would be in the best interests of the child.

Sen. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, said his Senate bill will include that amendment.

"I don't think I can pass that bill in the Senate without that amendment," Lawson said.
So the mother is sexually unfaithful, falsely names the wrong father, defrauds the man out of child support payments, deprives the child of his true biological father, and some judge is going to reward her for it by granting her 18 years of court-ordered support payments? And rationalize it by claiming that it is in the best interests of the child?

I think that paternity fraud should be a felony, and the best interests of the child might be for the child to be raised by non-felons.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Trucker indicted for carving on trees

Tennessee news:
Cunningham, a truck-driver, drove to a waterfall in White County -- one of the last places he had taken his two daughters. And as a gift to Jade, he carved her name in a tree, took a photograph of the tree and sent it to a sister-in-law, who he says gave it to the children's mother.

He also had written a poem to his daughter.

"Behind these trees, I cried, wishing you were here by my side," the poem said. ...

Earlier this week, Cunningham visited the Sheriff's office and discovered her had been indicted for vandalism for his handy work.

The girl's father says deputies gave him an orange jump suit to put on, shackled his ankles and put him behind bars for almost two hours before he could post a $1,000 bond.

"This about blows my mind," says the 45 year old Cunningham.

So, who reported the tree carvings to police and got him in a world of trouble?

Cunningham says he's not sure, but claims his ex-wife is listed as a witness on his indictment.
My ex-wife hasn't sunk that low.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Father punches time-out teacher

Florida AP news:
An angry father who marched into a classroom in Manatee County and punched a teacher's assistant in the face said Wednesday that he was protecting his 15-year-old daughter, who had accused the man of inappropriately touching her.

Dave Swafford, 42, was charged with felony battery on a school employee after he hit the 35-year-old aide in front of a class full of students at Lakewood Ranch High School near Bradenton on Tuesday morning, authorities said. ...

The man has been employed by the school district since 1999 and has a clean personnel record, Nanney said. His primary job is "time-out" teacher, overseeing in-school suspension. ...

"I wanted to know why the guy was in a classroom teaching after my daughter came forward," he said.
I never heard of a time-out teacher.

School Officials say that the girl made the whole story up.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

PBS issues lame defense of show

Cathy Young writes in the Boston Globe:

Last November, I wrote about the controversy about the Public Broadcasting Service documentary, "Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories," which claimed that male batterers and child abusers frequently gain custody of their children in divorce cases after the mothers' claims of abuse are disbelieved by the courts. The film caused an outcry from fathers' rights groups. In response to these protests, PBS announced a 30-day review to determine whether the film met the editorial guidelines for fairness and accuracy.

Unfortunately, it seems that the review amounted to little more than a whitewash. ...

Defending the claim made in "Breaking the Silence" that children are in greater danger of abuse from fathers than from mothers, Lasseur and Meier point to several limited studies that often lump together biological fathers with stepfathers and mothers' boyfriends (who, statistically, pose a far higher risk). Yet even these cherry-picked statistics show that a significant proportion of perpetrators of severe child abuse are mothers -- which makes the film's exclusive focus on abusive fathers difficult to defend.
The show was anti-father propaganda.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Reader gets evaluated

A reader asks how to prepare for a child custody evaluation, and how I managed to get 50-50 custody after a bad evaluation.

Maybe you should ask someone who knows how to work the system better than me. You could ask your lawyer; better yet you could hire a child custody coach for advice. Your divorce lawyer is not a child psychologist, and he may have no idea what impresses the custody evaluators.

The simplest thing is to just get and read a couple of parenting books from your local library. That will help you recite the sort of psychobabble that the evaluators like to hear.

My wife had a lawyer advising her. The rules say that lawyers cannot be involved in the custody evaluation, but there is a loophole that allows domestic violence advocates. So my wife made some bogus domestic violence accusations, and brought an advocate into her interview. She also asked several of her friends to write letters badmouthing me.

Our custody evaluator was a gay psychologist named Bret Johnson. Had I realized what an incompetent flake he was, I think that I would have told him to his face. He seemed to pay no attention to what I said anyway. His mind was made up.

Bret Johnson seemed befuddled by wife's silly accusations. He seemed to have no idea whether oatmeal and broccoli were appropriate for a 5-year-old to eat. I really don't know how to deal with a kook like that.

As for how I managed to get 50-50 custody, I have no simple answer. The family court system is run by people who don't have a lick of common sense. You can read this blog to get my story, but I have no magic formula.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Va child support laws

Stephen Baskerville writes in the Wash Times:
For the third time in six years, Virginia officials are trying to sneak through policies that will lead to more broken families and more fatherless children. They will also result in massive expropriations of Virginians without due process of law and the jailing of more law-abiding parents. As always in the post-Clinton era, the cynical justification is "the children," but those who profit will be lawyers, judges and bureaucrats. ...

They ignore Kimberly Folse and Hugo Varela-Alvarez, who conclude child-support programs "lead to the unintended consequence of increasing the likelihood of divorce." The panel took no notice of W.S. Comanor's groundbreaking volume, "The Law and Economics of Child Support Payments," where leading scholars characterize the system as "an obvious sham," a "disaster," and "the most onerous form of debt collection practiced in the United States." Citizens who want to redress the balance with these less biased experts must pay for it out of their own pockets.
It should be called mother support, not child support. The policies are based on supporting the mother, not the children.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

No F4J plot

The F4J plot turned out to be nothing:
The alleged 'world exclusive' on the front page of last Wednesday's Sun - 'Plot to kidnap Leo Blair. Cops foil Fathers 4 Justice extremists' - was such self-evident tripe that, ever since, the rest of Fleet Street has been doing what we do best: kicking a rival when it's down. The 'plot' turned out to be an off-the-cuff remark an undercover police officer heard one F4J campaigner make to another as they downed pints in a London pub, which either the police or Downing Street leaked to the Sun.

There was no conspiracy; if there had been, the police would have thrown the militant fathers into prison. Everyone was laughing about the pseudo scoop, except Matt O'Connor, the leader of Fathers 4 Justice, who promptly closed down his own group. He at least knew that the risk of violence was real, however silly the story was.

The 'plot' to kidnap the PM's son may have been pub talk, but far away from Downing Street, there has been a genuine low-level terror campaign. If you had logged into the chatrooms and message boards of extreme fathers' rights websites in 2004, you would have found wild denunciations of family lawyers and court staff.
Yes, I am sure the family lawyers and court staff have been denounced. If the situation in England is anything like the United States, they include some of the most evil and corrupt people that I have ever met.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Letterman restrained

Jeffery Leving and Glenn Sacks write:
A Santa Fe judge recently granted a temporary restraining order against TV talk show host David Letterman on behalf of a woman.

She alleges Letterman - who works in New York City and whom she has never met - has mentally harassed her through his TV broadcasts.

The woman also claims Letterman and fellow celebrities Regis Philbin and Kelsey Grammer have been conspiring against her. ...

Many, if not most, domestic violence restraining orders are simply tactical maneuvers designed to gain advantage in high-stakes family law proceedings. The Illinois Bar Journal calls the orders "part of the gamesmanship of divorce."

According to the Justice Department, 2 million restraining orders are issued each year in the United States, the vast majority of them related to domestic violence allegations.
It is unclear whether the judge read the request before signing the order against Letterman. Either way, it proves that these orders are granted frivolously. Next time you hear about someone who is a subject of a restraining order, remember that he could be as innocent as Dave Letterman.

Fathers rights film

London news:
Hollywood is to tell the story of the caped crusaders - not Batman and Robin this time, but Fathers 4 Justice.

After two years of fighting between film companies, Disney-owned Miramax has bought the rights to turn the campaign group's story into a blockbuster.

It will be a Full Monty-style tragi-comic take on the story of Matt O'Connor, 38, who founded the group to campaign for the rights of divorced fathers. ...

The story ends with the group's demise - Fathers 4 Justice split this week after news of an alleged plot by a splinter group to kidnap Mr Blair's youngest son Leo.
British humor is hard to follow sometimes.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Research on parenting styles

Boston Globe news:
Yale University researcher and child psychiatrist Kyle Pruett is a little more tactful: ''We haven't done enough to help women understand that the differences between a father's style and a mother's doesn't mean your child is at risk. It just means the styles are different." Indeed, research shows that the combination of exposure to mom's and dad's differing styles is what contributes to a child's healthy development. Pruett, a researcher on fathers' involvement, is author of ''Fatherneed, Why Father Care is as Essential as Mother Care for your Child" (Broadway).

''When a mother picks up an infant," says Shapiro, ''she rolls the baby into her breast and provides comfort, warmth, and security. A father picks up a baby and positions him either facing him, looking over his shoulder or facing out to the world. That provides the notion of freedom and interaction. Together, as a package, that's spectacular." Similarly, when mom plays with a toddler, she lets him tell her what to do. That supports his creativity and self-esteem. When dad plays, he typically directs the play: ''I'll throw, you catch." That teaches teamwork.

Pruett's research shows that when a father is involved (including in divorced families), benefits to children include: higher grade completion and eventual income; increased math competency in girls and high literacy rates for boys; greater competence in problem-solving; more empathy and moral sensitivity; less likelihood of engaging in gender stereotyping. New studies indicate that a father's early involvement reduces the likelihood of child abuse.
The article criticizes the idea that a dad is just an "assistant parent".

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Flowers in the hair

Here are the kids putting flowers in each other's hair.

Leo Blair 'kidnap plot' revealed

Britian news:
In what it calls a world exclusive, the Sun tells of an alleged plot by fathers' rights activists to kidnap Tony Blair's five-year-old son Leo.

It says vigilantes on "the lunatic fringe" of Fathers 4 Justice planned to hold Leo hostage for a short time.

It claims the move was intended to highlight the plight of fathers denied access to their children.

The Sun says no arrests were made and quotes a source saying the plot was "nipped in the bud at an early stage".
My guess is that there was no such plan, but getting this story out was just another publicity stunt.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Ohio domestic violence orders

I got this letter from Ohio:
A co worker was served with a warrant for his arrest on a charge of domestic violence. It was served late Friday afternoon, after the courts were closed for the weekend, so bond could not be set until Monday morning, and he spent the weekend in jail. (One does not disturb the courts on a weekend! The Sheriff's Deputies told him that this timing was so frequent that it was known as the "weekend divorce.") Monday morning his wife appeared at his hearing, claiming that he had struck her. She had no evidence, nor did the judge ask for any but if my co worker were to see the outside world, he would have to agree to undergo counseling (at his own expense, of course).

I know of several support orders in which, when the father's pay goes up, the required support payments go up. If his pay comes down, becomes a major battle to decrease the payments. On the other hand, if the mother's income increases, nothing is changed.

I recall serving a man with a court document in a domestic case, and I was given orders that it not be served prior to 4:30 PM. When I served it, I had to open it and read and explain it to the man because he was illiterate -- and it was a court order that stated that he would be considered in violation if he did not respond before 4:00 PM that same day. That's right -- he was to respond 30 minutes before he was served!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Reader complains about evaluator

A reader wrote:
George, I think you did a great web site. I am a women, but still found it very interesting. I know that the system really sucks for both genders. I'm an advocate for others too. I go to court, research, mediate, what ever. I'm trying to make a business of it, but I end up volunteering too much. No formal experience but smarter than any mediator in court.

I have a client who is now fighting for her 4 year old not to see the dad because the 4 year old said her dad was inappropriate. (I'll leave out details.) Well, Melissa and Jay both think she is just trying to allienate the dad and wants to reverse time share. The 4 year old has never spent more than 4 hours with the dad and now they want to give him weekends and other overnights.

First, she can't protect her daughter.
second, her daughter will be taken away from the only person she trusts.
third, will now be away for too long a time for that age, since she has not so far
fifth, stats show he is completly wrong. Why not error on the safe side. Is it kids we are protecting or the parent? If she is lying, it will come out soon. If not, the girl will be saved.
sixth, Melissa and Jay thought it was funny as they testified in court. How fitting.
seventh, EVEN, if you don't believe he did anything, then why not set up plan to increase time gradually like any other case that is sensitive to the needs of the young child?

Every time I go by the court house, it's like darkness. My client and I want to help others that have abuse issues to fight. Do you know any? Just like you, don't want people to research what has already been done.

I wish there wasn't this stigma of male vs. female. We are all in the same boat. Unless there is statistics to prove otherwise, I've seen as much bias for both sexes.

Maybe they decide by the number of letters in your name, or the color of your shirt? That would probably work out better. At least you'd know it was a crap shoot and not expect honesty.

Any other people or articles you know of about Jay would be appreciated. I think he shows bias to those he knows. I know of two of two firemen that come out way ahead for instance.

Thanks for listening, [name omitted], divorced 1998, 2 children, finally out of court 2 years now.
I had no direct dealings with Jay Muccilli, but I did try to check him out. He is a psychologist and custody evaluator for the family court. He seems to have a good reputation with the court and with other custody evaluators.

I happened to run into two people who had Muccilli for custody evaluators. Both denounced Muccilli in the most emphatic terms. The two had no connection with each other, but told me similar stories. One was a man and one was a woman, so it was not just sex bias. They described him as lazy and incompetent, and strongly recommended avoiding him.

Now you might think that I would trust the authorities more than some disgruntled litigants, but I know for a fact that the authorities tolerate gross incompetence. They even encourage behaviors that are, in my opinion, illegal and unethical, and harmful to children and parents.

I ultimately decided to avoid Jay Muccilli.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Motion to the court

I filed a motion to reconsider the support payments that I've been ordered to pay. The way I read the law, the judge has to justify his deviations from guideline. He has not. If he still refuses, I may have to appeal.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Law against annoying messages

I am still trying to figure this out:
Annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime.

It's no joke. Last Thursday, President Bush signed into law a prohibition on posting annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without disclosing your true identity.

In other words, it's OK to flame someone on a mailing list or in a blog as long as you do it under your real name. Thank Congress for small favors, I guess.

This ridiculous prohibition, which would likely imperil much of Usenet, is buried in the so-called Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act. Criminal penalties include stiff fines and two years in prison. ...

Buried deep in the new law is Sec. 113, an innocuously titled bit called "Preventing Cyberstalking." It rewrites existing telephone harassment law to prohibit anyone from using the Internet "without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy."
This is from Declan McCullagh, a reliable reporter and advocate of free speech rights. I certainly hope that it doesn't make this blog illegal.

My ex-wife may find this blog annoying, but that is not my intent. My intent is to defend myself against public accusations. I've offered to stop posting responses if she stops saying bad things about me in open court, but she refused.

I'll have to research this law some more. I don't think that I am violating it. If necessary to comply with this law, I may have to post our real names.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Crazy Florida divorce

Florida news:
SANFORD, Fla. -- Sally Erickson and Renzie Davidson thought they had the secret to marital bliss. But the eccentric list of demands outlined in their prenuptial agreement, which included mandatory backrubs and a $5 fee for nagging, still couldn't save their marriage.

Now Erickson, 61, is suing Davidson, 62, for allegedly divorcing her in secret more than two years ago, according to Seminole County court records.

Before saying 'I do' in 2001, the Florida couple agreed to a quirky prenuptial agreement. Erickson, a mental-health counselor, promised to cook breakfast a minimum of three times during the weekdays, and once on the weekends, according to the document.

"In return, Davidson will not wake Sally up on her 'off days,"' the document said.
Note that the wife is a "mental-health counselor".

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Court papers rejected

I filed 3 motions to the family court, asking for reconsideration of its financial rulings, but first one was just rejected because of formalities. The clerk said that I had to submit an FL-301 form and $40. He also complained that I mailed the papers to my ex-wife myself. Apparently I am supposed to hand the papers to someone else over the age of 18 who then drops them in the mailbox.

I guess I'll just have to refile.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Old letter from lawyer

I was cleaning up some old papers, and I ran across this gem:
August 25, 2004
Re: Marriage of AngryDad

Dear Mr. AngryDad:

My client indicates you attempted to explain some of the tax return information to her today. Please contact me directly to discuss the financial aspects of the case. If we can reach an agreement prior to the hearing on Monday, then I would prepare a stipulation reflecting the terms of the agreement.

Specifically, please provide supporting documentation for your monthly income and your tax return deductions. I am hopeful we will reach an agreement after reviewing the documents and hearing your explanation for the numbers listed on the tax returns. Do not give the documents directly to Ms. AngryDad. Do not discuss this matter with Ms. AngryDad. The court encouraged you to communicate with me, not Ms. AngryDad, to resolve these issues.

I look forward to your call.

Very truly yours,
Jennifer J. Gray
JJG:cs cc: client

My ex-wife is a lawyer, and I cannot explain my tax figures to her?!

It was a little difficult to communicate with my wife when her own lawyer was telling her not to talk to me. And no, the court was never so foolish as to tell me not to talk to my wife.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Gender issues and therapy

A reader writes:
You obviously have gender issues and need therapy. To post your "thoughts" about your co-parenting problems on a website, which your children have access to and have witnessed you writing, is defacto parental alienation.
I have been to 8 experts in connection with my divorce case, and none said that I needed therapy. The closest was Dr. Bret Johnson, who recommended psychotherapy. But under cross-examination, he admitted that he didn't find that I had any need for it. He just recommended it as a way of forcing compliance with his custody recommendation. (Johnson was the gay psychologist whose only expertise is in getting gay men out of the closet. He moonlights doing child custody evaluations for the local court. As far as I was able to determine, he knows nothing about child rearing or custody.)

My kids are already fully aware of my ex-wife's co-parenting problems. They see them first-hand.

If I wanted to badmouth my ex-wife to the kids, I would do it directly. I could tell many stories that are far worse than anything that I have posted here.

The kids know, of course, that my ex-wife has spent a year and a half in an open and public legal struggle to get sole legal custody of them. They also know that I have opposed her legal actions, asked for 50-50 custody, and sought to remain involved in their lives. They know that the court ordered massive disruptions to their lives based on my ex-wife's demands, but that the court ultimately decided that her demands had no merit. It was neither possible or desirable for me to prevent the kids from learning these things.

I realize that there are a lot of feminists who think that fathers should just pay mother-support, and not truly be parents for their children. I disagree. Those feminists probably think that I have "gender issues".

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Local speed traps

I mentioned to my kids a local news story that said that the local police had received grants to buy radar equipment so that they could set up speed traps on the 2 main streets in town.

My 6-year-old said, "Does that mean that we have to stay home?"

No, I explained that it merely meant that I might have to drive more slowly. If I get caught speeding, then I might get a ticket and have to pay a fine or appear in court.

She then said, "And then we'd have to live at Mom's?"

Sigh. I had to tell her that traffic court has nothing to do with family court.